Realizing that Precision Medicine (PM) is no longer a promise but rather a reality that will transform how we prevent, diagnose, treat and predict the prognosis of disease, the Division for Research and Innovation of the Ministry of Education, Research and Religious Affairs of Greece, in collaboration with the Hellenic Ministry of Health, has established a Precision Medicine Network (PMN) in Greece with a view to integration into the public health system in order to provide modern, high quality and efficient health services to citizens. Initially, the focus of the Hellenic PMN will be on cancer, however, it was agreed that there will be future network expansion to address other disorders, including neurodegenerative and cardiovascular diseases.
Leading national research and academic institutions engaged in research and clinical applications of molecular biology, medicine and data science participate in this Network: in the first phase, four units have been created, two in Athens and one each in Heraklion and Thessaloniki. Gradually, the PMN will forge close links with Oncology/Hematology Clinics and diagnostic laboratories with relevant expertise across Greece to provide state-of-the-art early diagnosis and monitoring services to cancer patients based on next generation sequencing technologies.
Precision Medicine (PM) represents a stage for strong international competition, with each country obviously claiming vital space and striving to attract scientific talent to bolster up its own advantages. Within this frame, the Hellenic PM Network will follow a carefully conceived strategy for making its presence felt through capitalizing on:
- biomedical excellence in cancer
- expertise in bioanalysis, in both research but also, importantly, diagnostic settings
- a wide network of national and international collaborations with academia, research and healthcare institutions, patient groups and patient advocacy groups, authorities and the pharma and biotech industry
Our strategy is essentially grounded on a zoom in-zoom out approach, whereby the focus will first be on paradigmatic cases and, subsequently, the lessons learned will be applied to more generic categories: with time and expansion to cover novel clinically validated indications, such approach ensures that PM will be increasingly recognized as the new standard of care by patients, healthcare professionals, payers and the authorities and society at large.
Such endeavor faces scientific, clinical, technological and financial challenges. The Greek PMN on cancer will try to overcome these through:
- integration of multiple heterogeneous biodata of different types and scales in order to reinforce the chain going from the molecular investigation of cancer to therapeutic benefit
- upscaling infrastructures for bioanalysis and data science as well as strengthening the workforce for realizing an effective convergence between these two pillars of PM
- systematic interaction with experts in various complementary disciplines, ranging from biobanking, to health technology assessment, health economics and bioethics towards addressing the multifaceted open issues in these particular domains
- links with relevant European initiatives (e.g. Genomic Medicine Sweden) and collaboration with neighboring countries from Southeast Europe.
PRECISION MEDICINE NODE OF CENTRAL MACEDONIA
Coordinator: INSTITUTE OF APPLIED BIOSCIENCES – CENTRE FOR RESEARCH AND TECHNOLOGY HELLAS (ΙΝAΒ | CERTH)
The Cenral Macedonia Node of the Hellenic PMN will be hosted by the Institute of Applied Biosciences at the Centre for Research and Technology Hellas (INAB | CERTH). Its planned activities entail the following:
- provision of specialized diagnostic services for caner patients based on recombinant DNA methodologies, particularly next generation sequencing
- identification of novel biomarkers for cancer through a multi-disciplinary approach grounded on the integration of biomolecular data with real world evidence (RWE)
The special focus will be on tumors of the hematopoietic and lymphoid tissues and pre-malignant conditions.